Barack Obama signs defence bill despite Guantanamo shut down restrictions

Washington: US President Barack Obama signed a defence bill that includes restrictions on transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Washington which will directly affect the shut down of the prison, the media reported on Thursday.

In a statement, Obama explained his decision to sign the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) on Wednesday because it includes “vital benefits for military personnel and their families, authorities to facilitate ongoing operations around the globe, and important reforms to the military retirement system, as well as partial reforms to other military compensation programmes.”

But “the restrictions contained in this bill concerning the detention facility at Guantanamo are unwarranted and counterproductive,” said Obama.

The president also said he was “deeply disappointed” because the “Congress has again failed to take productive action towards closing the detention facility at Guantanamo,” located in Cuba, EFE news reported.

Obama vetoed the first draft of the bill in October mainly because it was blocking the closure of the prison.

But on November 10 the Congress passed, with large bipartisan majority in both houses, a revised version of the NDAA, which the president has signed.

The closure of Guantanamo is a pending promise by Obama dating back to his first electoral campaign in 2008, but which has right from the beginning run into opposition from Congress, especially by Republicans who reject the transfer of inmates to prisons within the US.

The Guantanamo prison currently has a total of 107 inmates, a number significantly lower than the 800 it had when it was first opened by former president George W. Bush after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 in US.